February 17, 2011

resisting the intelligence, almost

Wallace Stevens said, "poetry must resist the intelligence almost successfully." What does that mean? Maybe it means that a poem is more than a collection of images that can be translated into something we might call "the meaning of the poem."

I would like to say something like that about painting: that a painting must resist the intelligence--the urge to explain the image--and that it must do this "almost" (but maybe not completely) "successfully".

So a painting might allow for any number of "explanations." It might invite the intelligence in and then present it with many puzzles.